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Coronavirus
COVID-19 death toll climbs to 178 in SA, 17 new fatalities recorded
8 May 2020, 10:10 PM

The Health Department has reported 17 new COVID-19 deaths in South Africa, taking the death toll to 178.

Confirmed cases have risen by 663, pushing the total number of infections to 8 895.

Of the 435 patients in hospitals, 45 are in high care; 77 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with 40 of those on ventilators.

The Western Cape remains the epicentre and has reported 503 new cases. This has put the number of infections in the province to 4 497.

According to the health department, the Western Cape accounts for 76% of the new infections, while the Eastern Cape contributed 9%.

More than 300 000 tests have so far been conducted, with 15 599 of them done over the past 24 hours.

Government says as of May 5, over 8 million South Africans have been screened across the country.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says government will bolster efforts already in place to put the virus under control.

Crime
Six men questioned about missing Tongaat teen
8 May 2020, 3:48 PM

KwaZulu-Natal police are questioning six men in connection with the disappearance of a teenager from Tongaat, north of Durban.

Nduduzo Andile Mbuthu was reported missing last week. A video, showing the 19-year-old Mbuthu injured and bleeding after allegedly being beaten, has gone viral on social media.

Police divers earlier retrieved a body from a river in the area and will be conducting DNA tests.

Some in the community are hoping for closure. Many seem to be certain that the body retrieved is that of the teenage boy, popularly known in his community as Bobo.

The community of Hambanathi gathered outside Mbuthu’s home to pray with his family.

The angry residents also protested outside the house of a person suspected to be involved in the kidnapping of the grade 12 learner, threatening to burn the building down.

The crowd dispersed after being warned by police.

Ward Councillor Zanele Khumalo says people are demanding to be addressed by Police Minister Bheki Cele.

“They are not happy with the way the police station handled this matter. They are calling on the police minister to come address them. They have made that call. What is really painful is that police kept saying that there is insufficient evidence. All the suspects have been taken in for questioning. The community needs to calm down,” says Khumalo.

In the video below, the Tongaat community searches for Mbuthu:

De Lille blames delay of South Africans leaving OR Tambo Airport on Health Dept
5 May 2020, 8:02 PM

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille says the delay that South Africans returning to the country experienced at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday night was because her department was not notified timeously about their arrival.

The group was supposed to be taken to a quarantine site after their arrival but were stuck at the airport for hours.

De Lille says while accommodation is organised by her department, the Department of Health first needs to check if the site is lockdown compliant.

She says despite the initial delay, passengers were accommodated in nearby hotels.

“Public Works and Infrastructure must be given 72 hours notice to activate the site that was approved by the Department of Health to be used for quarantine site and activating those hotels and the facility. If it’s a hotel – we need to give the hotel at least 48 hours. The Department of Health must come into the hotel to put up a medical facility,” De Lille says.

In the video below,  discussion on South Africans stranded in foreign countries:

SARS expects tax revenues to fall by at least 20% in 2020
5 May 2020, 2:47 PM

South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter says tax revenues are expected to fall by between 15 and 20% this year, which is about R285 billion. He is attributing the possible shortfall to both the sluggish economy and the coronavirus lockdown.

Kieswetter was addressing Parliament’s joint committee, during a virtual briefing on the revenue service’s strategic plan and annual performance. He says the significant reduction in economic activity and the long term loss of economic capacity as some of the businesses will never be able to reopen are huge concerns.

“It takes probably a 100 businesses with high input ability rate to create one successful business so every business we lost we will have to have a hundred if not more entrepreneurs to take the risk and creating businesses. And the third risk is the increase of the illicit economy and we have clear evidence that the illicit and criminal economies are thriving.”

In the video below, is a discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on emerging farmers and red meat producers:

Late in April, the SARS Commissioner expressed concern over the ban on alcohol and cigarette sales, saying the economy lost R1.5 billion due to it.

Alcohol and cigarette sales were outlawed when the country entered into lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

A legal battle is brewing over the government’s about-turn on cigarette sales. This after the National Command Council on COVID-19 reversed a decision to unban tobacco and cigarette sales following public consultation and expert advice.

‘Treasury no longer interest in rescuing defunct SOEs’

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni says the Treasury is no longer interested in rescuing defunct state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Replying to a question from the Democratic Alliance, Mboweni would not speak on the specific details of South African Airways (SAA). He hinted, however, that it could follow the example of Switzerland where Swiss Air went bankrupt and was replaced with Swiss International.

In the briefing to Parliament’s joint committees on Finance, Mboweni said however that they are interested in supporting SOEs that are functioning well like Telkom, which actually gives government a dividend. He added that he is biased towards helping state arms manufacturer Denel.

“Denel has the capacity to help in the further transformation of the military-industrial complex, converting some of the military technologies into civilian use. And it’s a very important area of supporting our engineers and so on. But they must get their business case up and running properly.”

 

Lamola mum on alleged early release of petty criminals
4 May 2020, 5:50 PM

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has declined to confirm or deny reports that government intends to release thousands of prisoners incarcerated for petty crimes as part of efforts to fight COVID-19 and ease overcrowding in prisons.

Lamola was briefing Parliament’s justice oversight committee virtually. Asked by some MPs about the matter, he said the matter was receiving attention.

There have been calls for prisoners who have been jailed for petty crimes to be freed to ease overcrowding in prisons. This, as more and more inmates and officials continue to test positive for COVID-19.

There are over 150 cases of COVID-19 in Correctional Services involving both inmates and officials.

In the video below, Johannesburg prison warder allegedly tests positive for COVID-19:

In April, the Department of Correctional Services slammed attempts of a nationwide jail hunger strike.

The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR) had said prisoners were planning to go on strike, demanding an early release of some inmates to deal with overcrowding amid the growing fears over the spread of COVID-19 in jails.

But the Correctional Services Department has rejected this as irresponsible and reckless mobilisation efforts to instigate inmates to revolt against the state.

Only one inmate at Baviaanspoort Medium Correctional Centre, in Gauteng, was then reported to have “become disruptive” following the threat of a strike. He was said to have laid on his back, refusing to move into his cell.

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